i cannot believe that happened

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I distinctly remember parking the car this morning, putting my hair up, taking off my rings to put on some handcream, putting on my sunnies, then grabbing my bags, locking the car and heading off to work.

Nothing felt ‘wrong’ to me throughout the day – which goes to show I’m mental/tired/distracted/dim/getting old/only human…

Got back to my car at 6pm – and there on the floor next to the driver’s door are my two rings. I spent the drive home repeating “I cannot believe that…I CANNOT believe that”. I’m very grateful they were still there. And I’ll never forget them like that again*.

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*touch wood

just me, the birds and my roses

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Nice and quiet here today. I love this suburb. Lots of people out walking but all for the same reason – enjoying a peaceful morning. It’s overcast and grey and there is a bit of drizzle around… the garden is giggling.

I’m old school when it comes to roses. If it doesn’t smell like a rose, I don’t see the point. Mr Lincoln, Freesia, Gold Bunny, Honey Dijon, Double Delight are some of my roses that all have a strong fragrance.

I break my own rule when it comes to my favourite rose. It’s called Julia’s Rose. It buds up a deep brown colour and when it opens it fades to the colour of parchment. My parents had it growing in the garden I grew up with and although it doesn’t have a scent, I love it because of its unusual colour. Parchment. What a delicious word to describe a flower. This is my favourite rose.

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banana bread babies

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Quick recipe for using up ripe bananas.

Heat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius/moderate.

Cream 60g butter and beat in 1/2 cup caster sugar gradually. In a bowl, mash up 2 bananas and stir in one egg. Slowly add this to the butter mix.

Sift 2 cups of self raising flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and slowly add this to the butter/banana mix and continue to beat it in.

The batter will be quite dry, so add 3 tablespoons of yoghurt. This mix gets poured into a greased loaf pan. You can sprinkle chopped walnuts on top (any kind of nut would work, I suppose).

Bake for 50 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean. Enjoy.

* I had 4 bananas to use so I baked a double batch to get a mother loaf and 6 babies.

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3 Beliefs That Transformed My Work-Life Balance

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This is an interesting (and short) read via Mashable giving three ideas on managing your time (and the things/people) who impact on it. Although, not sure about the deferring the daughter’s whereabouts to someone else, the idea of what my time is worth vs who should do my to do list is food for thought.

3 Beliefs That Transformed My Work-Life Balance.

well that weekend was short and sweet

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What a shame the weekend is only two days long. Saturdays for errands and some chores. Sunday for the rest of the chores and as much of the good stuff you can cram into a few hours. Add in at least one catch up with family and/or friends and the time for doing hobbies is seriously compromised.

There needs to be a third day. A day of unwinding from the chores and the errands. A day for a movie. A day for some art. A day for reading, while lying on the lawn in the dappled shade filtered by a tree. A day to nibble from a small plate of antipasto and sup on some fruity wine. But instead, we have to go to work. It just doesn’t seem right, does it?

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ashes catering trial número due

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Take eleventy billion zucchini and grate them. Sweat down a humungous bunch of spinach in a saucepan with a little butter and soy sauce. Add in some mushies and soften these too. Slice up as much ham as you like and add it to a large pie dish with the zucchini, spinach and mushrooms all mixed up. Whisk up some eggs with a good dose of pepper (I used 8 – this is a HUGE quiche). Pour the eggs over the dish and flatten it out. Then add some grated cheese over the top. The dish goes into the oven (sans lid) at 160 degrees until the eggs are cooked and the top is golden brown. Allow to cool, then slice and freeze for “tired night” dinners with some salad or wrap up for picnic lunches at the cricket 🙂

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ashes catering trials begin

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The Ashes at the Gabba is a HUGE deal and the preparation for the “catering” our group organises for each day is taken extremely seriously. Limes cut for the drinks. Nibblies for elevenses and threesies. Salads and/or rolls for lunch. It’s serious Masterchef picnicking stuff.

Tonight’s effort (guinea pigging work mates tomorrow) is a roasted pumpkin and feta pastry.

How it goes:

Thaw 2-3 pieces of puff pastry.
Oven to 180-200 Celsius.

Slice and dice the pumpkin (I used a half of one) and spread it on an oiled (or baking paper lined) tray. Season it with the herbs and spices of your choice. I love harissa flavourings – but turmeric and garlic go well also. Whatever you like really. Roast for 20 minutes and then get it out to cool a bit.

Whisk up three eggs and 100mls each of light sour cream and milk (you could also use cream if you’re feeling decadent).

Oil two muffin trays. Slice each pastry sheet into 9 squares (for a big muffin tray) or 16 squares (for a small muffin tray) and line each with a square of pastry. (I got 12 large and 24 small out of this recipe). ** Don’t forget to oil the tray!! These suckers are difficult to get back out.

Fill each pastry with some spiced pumpkin. Spoon the egg mix over each. Don’t overfill. Crumble some feta over the top. I used a whole packet (250g).

These go into the oven for another 20 minutes or until golden. Let them cool in the tray before getting out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Because the egg mixture ran over a bit, I ended up using a cake tester to loosen the edges of each to get them out of the pan.

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Refugee Council of Australia

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The Refugee Council of Australia has produced election guides outlining the refugee and asylum policies of the major parties as well as the minor party candidates for the Senate. Summaries of the policy platforms for the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal-National Coalition and The Australian Greens and a summary of the minor party candidates for the Senate can be accessed from their website.

Refugee Council of Australia.

in-som-nee-uh

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How much does the inability to get to sleep suck? Heaps! It sucks heaps. It’s nearly 1:30 and I have to be up in 4 and a half hours to go to work. My mind isn’t whirring. No big to-do list being compiled as I lie here. Just me asking myself why I’m not sleeping? Stupid. Now I’m getting angry and my jaw is clenching. Teeth grinding and a headache will be the morning result. Sigh. Something is going to have to give and it will be something other than me. It’s gonna be a long week.

this stinks

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There’s something a little disconcerting when the line at Bunnings warehouse is longer for a $2 sausage sizzle than it is to buy a badge or a wristband from our boys in uniform. The fact the armed services need to raise money to support the health and wellbeing of returned soldiers is insulting enough.

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watercolour your world

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Stamen’s website allows you to type in a place and it renders a map of it in watercolour. Fantastic for scrapbooks of travel, framed on your home’s “Wall of Life”, or part of your travel journal all marked up with where you have been – or want to go!

Go here – http://maps.stamen.com

This is Brisbane.

This is Brisbane.

Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA.

honey almond slice

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This is very tasty and very easy to make.

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Mix 65g melted butter into a bowl containing 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup plain flour and 1/2 cup of almond meal.

Flatten this mix into an oiled & papered slice pan (small square) and bake on 160 Celsius for 10-15 minutes til it has a little colour. It’ll be baked again with the topping, so better to go a little under here. Leave this out of the oven to cool while you make the topping.

Melt another 80gm butter in a small saucepan with 3 big dollops of honey – go more if you like the taste. Let this simmer for 3 minutes then stir through 1 cup of sliced almonds so they’re all soaked and covered in the gooey goodness.

Pour the topping over the base slice and pop back in the oven for another 15 minutes until golden.

How to Read Like a Writer | Brain Pickings

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I love this site – it’s a drop of the bigger picture every time I see it. When your life seems consumed with spinning your wheels doing all the “haves to do” – a reminder of the important stuff is a gift.

“Every page was once a blank page, just as every word that appears on it now was not always there, but instead reflects the final result of countless large and small deliberations. All the elements of good writing depend on the writer’s skill in choosing one word instead of another. And what grabs and keeps our interest has everything to do with those choices.”

How to Read Like a Writer | Brain Pickings.

experimental Sunday

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I’ve spent my day doing “what if’s…..”

What if I followed this old wives tale and used a pair of tongs with half a kitchen sponge rubber-banded to each side and dipped it in strong tea solution to clean my blinds? (A: it worked)

What if I just planted some bat plant seeds without researching if that’s how you propagate bat plants to see I they will pop up?

What if I planted a seed in each leftover Nespresso coffee pod to see if they’ll germinate?

What if?

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An evening with a living legend

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There are some extraordinary people who have spent their lives fighting for the preservation of the natural world – Dian Fossey, Ron and Valerie Taylor, Steve Irwin, Rick O’Barry, the Cousteau family, Trevor Long and David Suzuki, to name a few.

They have a lot in common. Tenacity. Drive. Determination. An ability to gather supporters around them – who either volunteer or work alongside them or fund their efforts. An ability to make enemies – dangerous ones at that when it comes to the “business” of poaching. They inspire the rest of us – particularly children. It’s a rare person indeed who has earned the respect and holds the attention of teenagers.

Standing tall amongst them is Sir David Attenborough.

One month after heart surgery to fit a pace maker, Sir David made good on his promised tour to Australia. An evening spent listening to him speak about his life – prompted by questions from Ray Martin. How he got into the role we love him for, what are his favourite moments, what was scary, how has the work of nature documentaries developed and improved over the years. So much to hear about and only 2 hours to hear it in.

Some lovely stories, stunning footage and an audience rapt to listen to it all. I spent the evening next to my nephew, who didn’t miss a word – and who didn’t miss his Xbox either. To see and hear a living legend was a treat well worth the money, time and the late bedtime on a school night.

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procrastination Billy Connolly style

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1 – Go into the kitchen to make a coffee – nespresso machine needs more water
2 – Filter water tap is behind the trays drying from last nights cooking
3 – Go to put away trays – realise they don’t sit well in the cupboard
4 – get out old dish-rack saved for such an occasion
5 – go into garage and hacksaw the dish-rack into two pieces – take off jumper as get hot
6 – set up trays in half of dish-rack to sit better in the cupboard
7 – set up bread boards in other cupboard using other half of sawed dish-rack
8 – go back to garage to clean up
9 – go into bedroom to put jumper away – see dirt tracked over the rug
10 – got to kitchen to get hand roller to run over the rug to save getting out the vacuum
11 – realise didn’t feed the fish yet – Artie and Sith doing cartwheels when I walked past
12 – feed Artie and Sith
13 – put back hand roller in kitchen drawer
14 – fill up water tank for nespresso
15 – make coffee

grateful for reading

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I can go months without reading novels. There are times when work is so much “input” that when I get home I can’t face concentrating on yet another thing. It hurts my head.

For the first time this year, I’ve felt like reading and I’ve gone back to one of my all time favourites – Patrick O’Brian’s brilliant series about the life of Captain Jack Aubrey and his particular friend Doctor Stephen Maturin. I love period fiction and this is one of the very best. There are twenty books in the series – with snippets taken from a few of them to make up the movie “Master and Commander” starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany as the lead characters. I still think they should do another one – do you hear me there, Russ?!
Master and Commander
There’s something magic about delving into another world described in such a way that the times and the people become familiar, comfortable and safe. I’m with them every step of the way, I laugh at their jokes and fear for their lives.

I can’t imagine not being able to read. It seems like every new film released prompts another round of the old book vs movie conversation. And more and more, I’m finding acquaintances that have never read the books modern films are based on – or even heard of the original film a modern one is “remaking”. Considering the popularity of recent films like the Life of Pi, Les Miserables and The Great Gatsby, it’s a shock that some have never come across the written story first, and don’t seem prompted to read the book afterwards either. Movies show a story, sure, but to hear it fully you have to go back to the original storyteller and sit at their table.

Even if I only reread the books I’ve loved – I’d have enough to keep me going for years. It makes me sad there are kids out there that may never get the thrill of sitting quietly, for hours on end, alone and thoroughly absorbed in the tale of another time, place and people they’ll never meet otherwise.

Last rah-rah game for the year for me

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Tonight the Queensland Reds hosted the British and Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium. The Lions are put together from the best of the 5 nations and they haven’t toured here for 12 years. It’s a special occasion that tens of thousands make an effort to come watch. Tonight the stadium was a sell out.

There was also a lot to prove for the Reds players with a great chance to impress for Wallabies selection – assuming the kiwi coach of the Wallabies likes you of course.

Unfortunately, the weather closed down the opportunity for consistent running rugby – with constant drizzle, the tactics sent the ball up and under more often than not and the handling mistakes increased from both sides.

Although the Reds scored 2 tries to one, we lost 22-12 with missed kicks and penalties. The atmosphere was fabulous though. The Lions fans are here to party and my God can they drink! 🙂

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thinking, not sleeping

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Is there anything worse than being awake when you want to be asleep – need to be asleep? Every tick of the clock means a second less time before I have to be up in the morning. It’s already the morning here – a quarter to 2 to be exact and all I can manage is the weary thought that with each passing minute staring at the ceiling, that’s a minute more demanding the day is going to be.

epic day of gardening

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An epic day of gardening today.

6 roses planted, two transplanted.
Heaps of herbs are potted up. I dummied up a shade ‘sail’ for a sunburnt hippeastrum. I’ve savaged the hedges until the bins are full. Last job is the watering – and its a satisfying way to finish the day. Watered plants and the smell of cut grass – awesome.

Now for a long, hot shower. I can already feel it in my back – ha.

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2am on a school night

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No sleep for Renie and no idea what keeps me awake this time. The house creaks and snaps – the same as usual. The cars are muffled as they growl past – as always. The odd bird calls for the other. I am sleepy but I can’t get comfortable. It’d be easier to deal with if I knew what was bugging me. I could write it all outside so my inside could drift. There. That’ll do. I’ll count ships on the sea – sheep have never done it for me.

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Staying healthy without a Doctor

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It’s interesting, isn’t it? Emergency medical services are directing members of the public with flu symptoms to go to a GP before presenting to them this winter. Ahh – no. I’ve I’m that crook, I’m going to the nearest hosptial. No matter how fluey I have been, no GP has ever done anything for me except for saying “keep doing what you’re doing and come back in 5 days if you still feel unwell”…and then charge me $70 for the advice.

What do GP’s think adults “soldier on” with for weeks before finally going to them?!!!? Most people I know self medicate with everything they can get – herbals concoctions, over the counter flu tablets, cough mixtures, lemon tea – you name it. Anything that helps us hold it all together. When we are finally run down enough to admit defeat and may be in need of a medical certificate to “prove” you’re sick and not off work surfing, the docs I’ve had do very little. In fact, it’s rare to even stick out your tongue and say ahh. These days, my ‘examinations’ are more short form Q and A with the obligatory print out of a generic brochure.

Waiting isn’t my forte

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My life is apparently in one of those “holding patterns” at the moment. It’s rare to hit a patch where every aspect of life is being delayed – work, home, health, hobbies, everything. But that’s what I’ve got. Yay, karma. Times like these frustrate the hell out of me. I want things done when I want them done. I’m happy to pay for them to be done when and how I want them. (It’s why I put up with a sucky workplace). But all these plans depend on other people getting around to it. The realisation that I can’t do this because …forms have gone missing; noone answers their phone; information isn’t forthcoming; systems are not configured so that they work correctly; the whole is not completed with the sum of the parts provided with the instructions; or my personal favourite – bickering childishness – he said, she said. Arghhhhhhhh!

Don’t get me wrong, I can procrastinate along with the best of them. I am slow and methodical in doing things. I don’t move quickly – needing to research each part of an entire project before beginning the first step. But when I’m ready to go, when the plans, small window of time, my money and a sliver of opportunity is there – aligned – and someone else yells “WHOA!” I could take their head off with a cricket bat. Truly.

There’s got to be a way to shift something. Get someone else moving. All I need is for one element to move in a forward direction and I’m sure, Pied Piper-like, the rest would follow to see where it’s going. It makes such a difference to my attitude and outlook to have something moving. I need a positive perspective to get me through my day, but it’s difficult to muster one when it seems that everything is stalled.

In the past I’ve driven myself into the ground trying to insert a plug of dynamite under immovable objects. It only ends up giving me migraine. So I am trialling taking a deep breath in and lowering my shoulders while I breathe out. It seems all I can do is keep chipping away at the things I can do myself. It doesn’t get anyone shifting any quicker, but it certainly lowers my blood pressure. IMG_0495

A compulsory fuss

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You have to go the extra mile to celebrate a birthday. You just have to. It’s the best opportunity to have a group of people all working towards the one goal – to make the birthday boy or girl smile and laugh. Special – that’s how they should feel. Special.

This was the epic-birthday-cake-from-left-field-can’t-beat-it-OMG-extravaganza we got for my Mum. She certainly wasn’t expecting it. Pastry, custard, toffee and sugar sweet flowers all in little packages. A dessert and cake in one. Brilliant.

Happy birthday, Mum. Love you.

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Partner in crime

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Met a lifelong friend for a long overdue catch up this evening over dinner. In fact it’s the first time we’ve met up since before Christmas – one of those “life gets in the way” type deals.

You know the drill – how’s the family, mutual friends, what’s been happening, how’s work. It doesn’t take long to get to the crux of it all though. Amazing how similar we’re feeling given the different lives we lead. Both realizing the way it is at the moment isn’t sustainable health wise. Both realizing no one’s going to look after us if we don’t prioritise it. Both needing reading glasses – god, were getting old! 🙂

Best bit? Cracking up. I haven’t laughed like that in a while. Chuckled after figuring out who the hell Bob is, talking through how we’d like to say what we really think at work – HA!, and best of all, a new call sign. No more singing along with sooky songs while sozzled, just a text saying “Where’s my fkn neck?” and we know to come running. You see? The crux. Hilarious.

On a roll with the baby steps approach

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Who knew it was this simple?

All these years I’ve had a looooooonnng list of things to do in my head, each and every day. I try to do a little of each one (if not all of them) and when I run out of time or fall in a heap cranky and sore, I’d tell myself how rubbish I am.

All I had to do was focus on one thing a day. And do it. Easy. Two days and two sets of drawers in my craft room. Beads now have a place to live and I feel able to actually do some craft.

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The Plan

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I approach each day intending to DO something towards my goals. My day usually gets high jacked by work, reacting to work, thinking about the reaction at work, then getting home and collapsing. I then beat myself up for not taking even one small step towards where I want to be. And yes, I know I’m my own worst enemy. Believe me, I know.

Today’s plan is simple. I will work, then shop for ingredients to make my own Harissa, then when home, I will put together one of the two drawer sets for my craft room. Just one of them. That is all. I can do that – no matter what rubbish hits the fan in the workplace.

Lets see how I go with a short list.

This is Australia

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The current weather radar for Australia Day is looking pretty grim for the east coast. A downgraded cyclone has lashed up north and now the coast gets the water and the wind. From the Far North down to Central Queensland is already flooding with the coastline communities just north of Brisbane copping a shellacking from tornadoes!?!?!? We never get them near the coast. Weird times. Weird weather. Buckle up, cos its been a mild summer and I think we’re about to get the sting in its tail.

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the written dump – trial period begins

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I think too much. Some topics go round and round my head so much I don’t remember what started it.

I am the sort of person who likes to be prepared. I plan. I plan everything. I plan what might happen. I plan what won’t happen in a million years. It’s not all bad. Sometimes I crack myself up completely. I have been busted rolling around on the floor. And I’m ok with that. I don’t mind if you think I’m nuts.

I like daydreaming. I like my imagination. I don’t mind that it gets whatcha might call “fantastical” at times. But I don’t like to worry. This I do too much. It affects my sleep. It hurts my head. It makes me grind my teeth…which also hurts my head.

So, in the name of the institution of New Years resolutions, I begin my trial of the “great written dump”. Each night I’m going to fill a page of what happened that day, maybe what might happen tomorrow, shopping lists, a knock-knock joke – whatever is rattling around my stupid noggin. I’ll put it all down and lay it to rest. I’m hoping sleep will come easier to an empty head.

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2013 come at me

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As far as my annual tarot reading goes, it’s game on for 2013. According to these cards, the end of 2012 was full of irritable niggle and restless dissatisfaction. No kidding!

The next steps, however, are in clear air and full of good potential. One issue will be the need to keep moving along this new path and deal with the old ways crumbling without needing to blow everything to hell in the process. Temper temper!

If you’re debating whether to give something new a go, but hesitate because you think you’re too old to begin an “apprenticeship”, consider where you’ll be this time next year if you don’t make a start…in exactly the same place you are now.

2013 is not the year to stagnate, ladies and gentlemen. Hang on tight or you may be left behind.

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Phew. We made it.

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Laundry done. Bed made up with fresh crisp linen. Plants all watered. Fish tanks water changed. House cleaned…mostly. Now with 20 mins to midnight on New Year’s Eve, I can sit, pop a little bottle of bubbles and raise a toast bonvoyaging 2012.

Here’s to a fresh and clean start to 2013. Definitely out with the old and room for the new.

Happy New Year.

an Aussie Christmas

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A belated Christmas check in with you all. I hope you had a sane day/s with your family. If not, I hope you were safe and warm and fed and at peace. I fear more and more people don’t have “somewhere to go” during the holidays. I hope if you weren’t with family, you got a smile from someone.

Our family’s Christmas venue changes each year – and that’s ok. What ties us to the years before is what we do on the day.  We make sure we do the little things each year to celebrate the season and the beginning of a new year.

It’s a simple as:-

  • a tupperware server full of nibbles – chocolate scorched almonds, choccie peanuts, jubes, rumballs, cashews, macadamia nuts. And it magically refills overnight to be full again for the feet up tradition of watching the Boxing Day test and the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race
  • a bowl of mock chicken dip (my Nanna’s recipe and made by mum)
  • a tray full of mangoes – eaten over the sink or in a bowl with ice-cream
  • copious cups of coffee and tea and a good chat over each one
  • cold roast chicken and ham off the bone with salads galore for lunch, dinner, lunch, dinner…you get the idea!
  • christmas cake or pudding with custard – although no-one ever has the room
  • short walks in the heat to stretch the legs and amuse the dog
  • a christmas tree with gifts under it and cards amongst the branches
  • at least one gag gift – this year I got an M&M dispenser….”You get in the bowl!” Ha.
  • no twitter/facebook/texting – but lots of calls

And the best Christmas gift of all – a cracking storm that dumped enough rain to fill the tanks and back up the down pipes.

Here’s cheers to you and yours.

The best Xmas pressie an Aussie can get

The best Xmas pressie an Aussie can get

Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Stop.

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Today is the last day of my two weeks holiday. I had two weeks off to move house in June and now this is it for a good few months into 2013 (at least).

I had the first week over in Perth, Western Australia for the cricket test between Australia and South Africa mostly. I’ve never been to Perth before, so it was nice to cruise around a little and soak in the western vibe. I liked it very much.

Back home on the redeye – which basically wiped a day. To face four working days to tick off as many errands on my to do list as possible.  I’ve got two big things left, half the Christmas shopping and sorting, one handmade art piece to do, and it’ll all have to get sorted during lunch hours…somehow.

Which of course means, that now I’m tired.

I need another holiday.

look for the silver lining

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So, the second day at the Gabba for the first Australia vs South Africa test in 49 years has been delayed due to rain. Rather than wait all day, I’ve bailed and will go back in for tomorrow’s play (fingers crossed it happens).

Regardless, there’s always a silver lining if your eyes are open – here’s the pretty view on the way back to pick up the car.